3 Things You May Not Know About Christmas Cookies


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I am just so excited for Christmas! The only thing going through my mind lately has been the song "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” as I stare, awestruck, at all of the lights, decorations, and Christmas spirit on display! I have really been getting in to the festive mood as I have attended Christmas celebrations, watched the specials on TV, and (of course!) started to enjoy all the delicious Christmas treats!

As I ate some of my mom’s annual array of Christmas cookies today, I started to think back over our tradition of leaving cookies and milk out for Santa. No Christmas Eve was complete until the cookies were on the special plate, the milk was poured, and perhaps even a few carrots or reindeer food had been spread on the lawn.

Where did this tradition begin? With so many other traditional Christmas goings-on, how is it that we began to put Christmas Eve treats out for the big guy in red? Well, I have dug up a few theories on the matter, so grab a bite of your favorite Christmas treat, and read on!

1.An Eight-Legged Horse

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One of the farthest dating theories on why we leave cookies and treats out Kris Kringle, actually dates back to Norse mythology. Children used to leave hay and water out for the god Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipner, while the god was about his Yule hunting ventures. It was believed that the god would be so pleased with the children leaving a snack for his horse, that he would leave small treats or gifts as a "thank you.” Later, the tradition continued as Dutch children left out treats for Father Christmas’ horse. Personally, I can’t help but think of the eight tiny reindeer in comparison to an eight-legged horse! A bit of stretch, but I can definitely sense a connection.

2.Treats on the Tree

Another pre-Christian explanation for the traditional cookies and milk dates back to Germany. Germans would decorate what they called a "paradise tree” with apples, wafers, and cookies to celebrate the season. Later, this tradition would merge with Christianity and the decorated tree was adopted to celebrate Christmas. Santa was said to snack on the treats left on the tree as he passed through and left gifts for the children. I guess having a few fun surprises the next morning would make up for having the decorations eaten off your tree!

3.The (Cookie!) Feast of St. Nicholas

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St. Nicholas was an honored bishop during the 3rd Century known for his kindness and generosity. Most of our Santa Claus legends stem from this jolly man. Because he was so honored, a feast was traditionally held in this Saint’s honor on December 6th. Children were also known to leave treats out to honor the Saint and his attendants who were said to leave gifts in exchange for the token of food the night before the great feast. Later, the traditional feast died down, but leaving cookies out for St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas (as the Dutch would mispronounce the name) remained.

So, whether you believe that the tradition began with an eight-legged horse, as a tribute to a Saint, or a combination of theories, leaving cookies and milk for Santa is still a beloved holiday ritual. As you prepare for your Christmas on the coast this year, don’t forget the cookies and milk for Santa! You can coastify your Christmas by baking some of your own cookies this year with a special coastal flare. Check out a few of the recipes we’ve found for a fun twist on Santa’s favorite treat!

Coastal Cutout Cookies

We all know that Mr. Claus loves the coast the best, so let’s make his night by leaving out some coastal cutout cookies! These cookies are a twist on traditional sugar cookies, as they use fun coastal cutouts! From life savers to dolphins to fish and more, you can find some inspiration and a yummy sugar cookie recipe for your own coastal cutout cookies on this website.

Gingerbread Mermaids

If you read last week’s blog on coastifying your Christmas, then you will be familiar with switching up your traditional gingerbread men with something a little more coastal! You can use cookie cutters in the shape of mermaids, or simply decorate your gingerbread men with swimsuits instead of buttons to add a fun beachy spin on your cookies for Santa. Find out how to combine the delicious seasonal gingerbread flavor with the whimsy of the beach with this recipe for gingerbread mermaids.

Ginger Sand Dollars

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For those of you who want something a little more elegant for Santa to enjoy, you can try this recipe for ginger sand dollars. This recipe includes a yummy sugar cookie combined with almonds and ginger to create a cookie that looks just like a sand dollar. The almond slices create the design of a sand dollar while the ginger/sugar mixture dusted on the outside creates the illusion of edible sand. Such a deliciously delicate cookie for Santa to enjoy while making his stop at your Emerald Isle rental.

While enjoying your tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Kris Kringle this Christmas, we hope you’ll try out some of these fun coastal recipes. I love how these traditions have lasted through the generations and are still just as fun now as they were when I was a child. Regardless, however, of how you celebrate your Christmas season whether it’s with Christmas cookies and lights or with any number of traditions, we hope you’ll take the time to spend with your family and friends while on your vacation in Emerald Isle!

Share with us: What Christmas traditions do you celebrate with your family?